The nights were our moments to come alive, and we lived more than ever through and through. Particularly on this singular night, one of the few to remember on the fleeting harmattan evenings of February, the senior boys did something rare: they carried their school bags instead of assigning the task to junior students. They slung them over single shoulders, strutted with style, and anxiously fiddled with the straps and zippers over the valuable contents therein. The girls anticipated the scented, lengthy, grammatically flawed, hand-written notes on skillfully split hardcover paper. The lads broke out their sweatshirts and suede shoes, and they doused themselves in volumes of BOD Man.
And at the end of the romantic displays of young love that evening, the giving of expensive gifts, the accompanying to the demarcation of the paths; we heard the screams of excitement coming from the girls’ hostels. Sometimes, we even heard our names. And it was in that second, that moment seemingly fixed and frozen in time, that it was all worth it.
These were the games we played, in the traditional rites of passage. They were the informal rules, scribed into the creed of the lads in the Academy; the actions that made ones name get passed on from class to class, in eternal lore. Our roles were to give. But the role of girls on the other hand, was simply to receive affection. And behind the scenes was the pressure to live up to the expectations. I am unsure of how it seemed to others, but it never made much sense to me.
So, never again.
Love is an entity as dangerous as atomic artillery, as confusing as the questions that transcend time, yet as sweet as the canary’s song. And sometimes, once the feeling is set in motion, it rages as quickly as wildfire.
Love is as inescapable as the sight my eyes are gifted, but sometimes cursed to behold. I say this to mean that there is a level of vulnerability, a susceptible position we take, when we love without holding back. It is like jumping off a cliff with the faith that one will soar through endless clouds, beyond the horizon to a wondrous place, and not fall to immediate or eventual doom.
It occurs to me that the different philosophies we all hold; the characteristics and traits of the games we play with others are sometimes set in stone to some of us who hold issues of affection close to heart. And I understand that. I understand people having their non-negotiable, sometimes even stubborn beliefs of what love should entail: how love should look, how love should feel. I understand that these beliefs vary from person to person. What I do not understand however, is conforming to what feels out of place: what feels unnatural, what feels forced, and most importantly, what feels pressured. The introduction of external pressure is the beginning of the end of that which is genuine and true. And that is something I see in the general day-to-day interactions that people have with those they are pursuing. And it is a problem. It is something I have seen even from my days at the academy: in that case, it was the one-sided pressure to live up to those who had gone before you, and the legacy to leave behind to those coming after. At least, that is how it appeared to me, through the lenses I use to see the world.
I believe a lot of relationships are experienced not by the two entities involved, but by those two, and external voices that are allowed to have impacting roles when they should not. I once had a friend who dated this lady, and during the course of their relationship, he believed himself to be in a long, encompassing relationship with the lady and her three closest friends. So with these differing, conflicting philosophies that people hold, and the external factors that affect them, I believe the situation becomes a gas-infused space, in wait of the tiniest spark.
I am not saying that people should never seek the wisdom in wise counsel when it comes to the affairs of the heart. But there is a fine line, and I believe we should be aware of when it is being crossed.
So the solution, one might wonder?
I have everything but a definitive answer. I do not believe in telling people how to live their lives, but I can only speak to my truth in its absolute form. I believe the path lies in two floating bodies in a seemingly endless field of multiple options, not forcing, but flowing seamlessly, finding each other, while blocking out the white noise.
📸: Guillermo Rangel, from Candor.